Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘change and reform

Woodstock and May 68 (France): Any links?

Posted on October 8, 2010

Woodstock turned out to be the free musical event of the century and gathered a million of youth and young parents with their kids for three days:  It was organized in a nation of plenty and economic growth and a savage, genocidal war in Vietnam.  

The US was training astronauts to land on the moon and the war in Vietnam was harvesting 200 US soldiers every day.  

The youth in France, and particularly in Paris, took to the streets and occupied schools, universities, manufactures for an entire week.  France was in a State of plenty; and “Law and Order” policy was firmly established.  Transparency of the power system in both countries was lacking.

Youth and the newer generations were worried of carrying on their life as their parents did:  It seemed pretty boring and pointless to working for just acquiring consumers goods.  

Youth needed an alternative for their future and a way out of what to do of these internal conditions of plenty and security.  

In both events, youth motto was: “Love is everything.  We need to be free to love and be loved.  Yes for peace and no for war”  

In a sense, morality and law and order to the youth were no longer necessary.  They want to be liberated of  the shackles of the moral “value set” that society was chaining them in. That’s how they perceived the political and social situation then, and their feeling was on target:  Change and reforms were not being felt as technology was.

(Actually, the Beat generation a decade ago set the stage for this new phase)

Men, lawyers and investors, organized Woodstock; but it was the women who ran the show and kept the peace; marijuana and a few other drugs helped.

It was not supposed to rain in that summer event but it poured; people enjoyed sliding in the muddy inclines.  Many soldiers returning from the front in bad mental and physical conditions joined the party:  They were in states of shock and diminished as individuals. 

The mood at war was different from the mood of fraternity, compassion, respect for the other during the musical event:  They experienced extremes in mood swings.

People who purchased tickets, before the event turned free, could gather in front of the large stage. Most attending visitors parked on the hills surrounding the show:  They saw little ants singing and bouncing on the stage but they had their own music in the caravans and vans and tents.

They had their own supply of drugs and favorite music.  They could feel at peace alone even among million.  Masses were no longer of any threat; they could deal with their own internal demons in a gathering of like-minded association.

I lack statistics on the casualties during Woodstock such as injuries, sicknesses…but it is amazing that the event went on for three days in relative peace and very few official policing.  

Most of the youth had no plans of action for their future; they had not the slightest idea where the next location will be or how their life will unfold.  

Many converged to San Francisco, particularly to Ashbury Heights.  The young women had a better grasp of how their individual social stand could transform and empower family and community.

Transparency of the democratic system and reforms were very much in the mind of the newer generation but the detailed programs and future activities were not planned.  It was the real step forward in mankind history instead of the so-called “giant step” of Armstrong on the moon.

In the Paris revolt of May 68, women were the most vocal and most active in the organization and demonstrations:  They were revolting for serious freedom to womanhood in the customs and traditions of society.  Laws were to be more specific on gender equality in duties, rights, and responsibilities and opportunities in the workplace and be effectively applied.

At that age of seemingly confused plan of actions, many claimed that joining for music sake and this impulse of being there in the gathering of crowds was a show of unity of youth spirit around the world.

Youth refuses to miss a togetherness event.  It is this power of gathering that worried the power-to-be: The various interpretations of the meaning of these demonstrations were beside the point.

It was a big party with deep lucidity:  banners read “Run, comrade, run.  The old world is chasing after you.”  

Youth was taking a reprieve by running joyously, a week of total freedom, running as fast as he could, knowing that the old world will invariably catch up with him.   Karl Marx said:  “When history repeats its cycles, the next time around is a farce.”  

Spring of 68 was a sympathetic and spontaneous farce; it was an innovating and creative revolt with no arms.

It was a spring of movable fair, an all free-invited party.  It was a movable feast for sharing ideas and desires for justice, peace, liberty, and pleasure.

There were plenty of generosity and compassion:  Youth was feeling bored of the old world system of unjust order, capitalism, petrified ideologies and dogmas.  It was a humongous fair where affluent lifestyle in the western States of plenty hide the miseries of the lowest classes living in shantytowns.

It was in a period for the third world struggling to emerge from the slavery stage of colonialism.  Spring fairs in the western world spread to most nations where the partying lasted and lasted.

The virus of the movable feast reached countries with old systems destroyed by the colonial powers:  The newer power systems were unstable and mostly haphazard to come chasing after mass movable fairs. 

Spring of 68 crossed to Lebanon and lasted 5 years and emerged on a civil war that lasted 13 years and produced 300 thousand casualties (10% of the population!)

You don’ t need to have a unified purpose to ge together; just youth assembling.  

Large assembling of wolves is good enough a show of force to giving the best impulse to political parties for figuring out the major problems in the political structure ideology.  

The awareness of the problems, after the show of “peaceful force”, can make a difference even if the demonstration was not united behind a clear banner of intent for specific reforms.  

Invariably, a few reforms are imposed.  Getting on the streets beats sitting in isolation, eating our hearts out in bitterness and confusion.

The next phase of modernity began after this successful big party.  Moral values were reviewed and adapted to new realities because ancient fears changed qualitatively:  Laws of pure obedience were submitted to a new reflecting generation. 

Ethics of giving more weight to values than laws was supposed to be the normal extension to morality. The foundations were set for the remaining of this most violent century.

Though the trend for launching pre-emptive wars around the world were in the planning and executed with determination: Let blood reach the knees in the nascent underdeveloped States and south America.

Charbel Nahas, best ex-minister of Labor and the terrible reforming boy on the block

His Excellency Charbel Nahas, former minister of Work and Social Affairs, gave hell to the current government of Lebanon and made it look utterly impotent and helpless in confronting the varied reforms needed for human dignity, justice, fairness and basic rights…
Charbel Nahas would come to the meetings and discuss at length his many projects and other ministers projects and pinpoints their deficiencies and reckless studies…
Charbel Nahas was pressured to submit his resignation and was promptly accepted, with great relief…

“There is nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning to an episode of one of many inspiring and animated Lebanese political talk shows.

Political talk shows are only a mirror of the dismal centuries-long political vicious circle we have been stuck in, anything but inspiring and animated in a tragicomedy kind of way.

But when I tuned to New TV’s Sunday talk show yesterday, there he was with his salt and pepper mustache that Lebanese men of old days would swear on; characteristically irritated and annoyed; decorating his speech with the vernacular that you’d never think would make it on national television.

Listening to Charbel Nahas at any time of day is refreshing and animated, and so I watched on.

Charbel Nahas brings today his usual logic and no-nonsense perspective to the issues the Lebanese government is dealing with, or rather, does its best to stay away from, which includes the government’s policy of dissociation towards Syria, at a time when the spillover effects on Lebanon on the political, security and economic front will exacerbate as the situation in Syria worsens.

The successive Lebanese governments (in this pseudo State) have the tendency to only react to increased refugees and security incidents and lack the will to take a clear stance on Syria and be truly prepared to face the deep-seated changes in Syria as they have a direct effect at home.

Nahas also rightly mentions the way the current government is drowning the country deeper into financial chaos and unconstitutional behavior. Cabinet passed a budget that doesn’t include sources of revenue while promising to adopt, among other things, increases in salaries and the amendment of salary scales.

Nahas points out that the salary issue is in itself an important reflection of the government’s will to strengthen the state and its institutions.

Providing decent salaries and an appropriate package of benefits for public employees would attest to the true will of politicians to attract the best people for public jobs and thus ensure top-notch public services to the population.

Given that the compromise reached on the issue of salaries doesn’t come close to the expectations and needs of the people, this speak loud and clear of the government’s lack of interest and will to strengthen the state and its institutions.

Charbel Nahas –

The local political debate has lost a lot since Charbel Nahas resigned as Minister of Labor in February 2012. One had the sense that here was a political figure that argued within the government based on ideology and principles, instead of politicians who keep fighting each other only based on who would get a bigger piece of the pie.

Needless to say, it would only be a matter of time that he resign, especially as his independent stances and seemingly genuine will to “change and reform” began to stand in the way of General Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)’s of “change and reform”, the movement that made him a minister in the first place.

It was after his resignation that his appeal and popularity became apparent, as a true ‘Minister of the People’.  The popular gatherings he held to explain the reasons for his resignation and the discrepancies behind the government’s policies on the minimum wage gathered his supporters.

People gathered  from all walks of life, age, creed, social background and different political affiliations, joined by a strong desire for change through a man who didn’t look like the rest of the old political faces.

Nahas brought his academic and political experience to the table in a way that the common man could understand, without arrogance, but with simplicity and empathy. Here was someone who wasn’t afraid of the people, but would make many of those with high stakes in the current system afraid, as he attacked the system and called for people to support his envision of change and the young to see this change through.

I am not one to privately nor publically align myself to any political figure or support any political party in Lebanon whatsoever. Few political figures have any credibility of stances and actions, while political parties have never really existed here.

Yet, I continue to sense a breath of fresh air with Charbel Nahas.  You may not always support his stances entirely nor his confrontational style, but he has so far proven to be a man of his word, a man of principle, and really, politics can’t always be diplomatic and built on consensus, but needs that shout out and confrontation every once in a while.

Among other things, Nahas attacks the current Lebanese system.  He also talks of introducing some of the aspects existing in social democracies such as the Scandinavian ones that have brought true welfare and social wellbeing to its citizens. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that either.

Although Nahas noted that there was more than a 50% chance that parliamentary election would not take place next year, if they do, it will be his chance to translate his popularity into something more tangible.

Having a new electoral law would certainly help, as well as a populace willing to support new faces that have a vested interest in change. Even if Nahas remains outside of the confines of the decision-making process, only by attracting more courageous supporters, will he have managed to break some ground in people’s apathy and given them the right to hope that change can be a reality some day, and not only a dream…




March 2023

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